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Environmental Science by Research

MSc ( 1 year Full-time / 2 years Part-time )

Overview

Mountains in New Zealand

Both natural environments and those heavily influenced and altered by human activities are ever-changing. This programme will allow you to explore the unique specialisms within our physical geography and environmental science research team, and to work closely on a specialist topic with an expert in your chosen field of interest. The support available is on a one-to-one basis and culminates in a substantial MSc dissertation. This can take the form of a traditional monograph, a research report or two draft manuscripts intended for publication in an international, peer-reviewed journal. This programme is ideal for those looking to continue on to PhD research or to work independently, for example, as a consultant.

Which topics can I study?

Projects available from our Earth Surface Science specialists change every year and a full list is available on the School of Geography website. Recent topics have included:

  • environmental impact of historical landfill
  • lateral moraine formation
  • analysis of glaciotectonic structures
  • assessment of rare species
  • analysis of braided river channel networks

This programme:

  • places you with one or more internationally acknowledged experts in physical geography or environmental science, with superb research and analytical facilities that ensure a top-quality research environment 
  • offers you the opportunity to work with partner organisations, providing insight into their structure and operation
  • combines a smaller taught element that will provide you with key research methodology, skills, approaches and debates relevant to your field of study, along with a substantial element of independent work to focus on a specific area of research
  • provides you with a range of transferable skills suitable for further research and employment, including analytical field and laboratory skills, data modelling, statistical analysis, project management and critical evaluation of information.

Become a part of QMUL Geography

  • Professional and friendly environment: We are recognised as an international centre for excellence in teaching and research. Our work is at the forefront of human geography, shaping debates and providing significant new insight and understanding. We are also known for our friendly, collegial and welcoming ethos and are home to many of contemporary human geography's best known scholars.
  • Research excellence: Almost 80 per cent of our research outputs (books and articles) are rated as world-leading (4*) or internationally excellent (3*) placing us 5th in the UK for this measure. Our research scores increased across all areas in the latest UK score of research excellence (REF 2014) and we're ranked joint 11th for geography in the UK overall. We're also proud to feature in the top 100 departments in the world to study geography (QS World University Rankings 2015).
  • Employability: 94% of respondents from our postgraduates were in work or further study six month after graduation; 91% at graduate level (DLHE 2015).
  • Capital location: We're a School that cares about the world beyond the university, working with a range of community groups, artists, cultural and heritage institutions and policy makers, particularly here in east London. Our passion is to demonstrate through research and teaching the intellectual and political significance of geographical research and understanding. We encourage our students to become part of this vibrant intellectual culture.
  • Networks: You will develop knowledge and understanding relevant to employment in organisations such as Environment Agency, Defra, Natural England, Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, British Geological Survey and environmental consultancies.

Funding 

  • Walter Oldershaw Award: eight awards (£3,000 each) are available across all masters degrees offered by the School of Geography
  • Queen Mary Alumni Loyalty Award: all graduates of QMUL are awarded with a £1,000 bursary 
  • Postgraduate Loans Scheme: eligible students will be able to borrow loans up to £10,000 
  • Read more about these opportunities on the funding a masters page

Facilities

  • Facilities: There is a wide range of field equipment including state-of-the-art lab facilities for the analysis of environmental samples, a micromorphology and micropalaeontology suite, a luminescence dating laboratory, and new River Lab which features two experimental flumes and advanced geospatial survey technology for studying river processes.
  • Weekly research seminars: As a postgraduate student you will be invited to weekly research seminars as well as several research frameworks sessions with top-level academic researchers.
  • Individual working space: Research students have individual desk and computing space in dedicated offices within the School of Geography and access to facilities for specialist statistical and Geographical Information System (GIS) analyses, desktop publishing and the processing of video and electronic images.
  • University of London network: Queen Mary is a part of the University of London, so our students have access to the facilities, learning resources and libraries across the group's institutions.

* Fieldwork costs are additional to tuition fees. In 2015/16, the cost of field trips on this degree programme were approximately £550 for those who chose the module 'Field Methods for Freshwater Environmental Science'. Other bespoke locations vary in price. 

Structure

The programme is made up of 180 credits.

Core module:

  • Independent Research Project (120 credits)

Compulsory modules:

  • Environmental Science Research and Practice (15 credits)
  • Data Analysis (15 credits)
  • Elective taught component: EITHER Project-specific Research Training (15 credits) OR Field Methods for Freshwater Environmental Science* (15 credits)

Option modules:

  • Biogeosciences and Ecosystem Services (15 credits)
  • Desk Study (15 credits)
  • Flood Risk Management and Modelling (15 credits)
  • River Assessment and Restoration (15 credits)

Contact

Entry requirements

An upper second class honours degree or higher in a relevant subject from a UK university (or an equivalent international qualification) together with two supportive references is usually required. It is not a requirement to have previously studied geography and we encourage applications from students from a natural and environmental sciences background. Applicants must specify a topic from our current topics list that they wish to investigate and include a research proposal with their application.

Candidates are expected to have good English language ability and to meet the standard of the IELTS, or equivalent, at a level of 6.5. Read more about English language requirements. If you do not meet language requirements it might be possible for you to undertake foundation or pre-sessional programmes that will prepare you for the masters programme. For more information, please contact the Admissions Office on +44 (0)20 7882 5533 or email admissions@qmul.ac.uk.

For detailed country-specific entry requirements please visit the international section of our website.

Learning and teaching

As a student at Queen Mary, you will play an active part in your acquisition of skills and knowledge. We take pride in the close and friendly working relationship we have with our students. You are assigned an Academic Adviser who will guide you in both academic and pastoral matters throughout your time at Queen Mary.

Independent Study

For every hour spent in formal classes you will be expected to complete further hours of independent study. Your individual study time could be spent preparing for, or following up on formal study sessions; reading; producing written work and completing projects.

The direction of your individual study will be guided by the formal study sessions you attend, along with your reading lists and assignments. However, we expect you to demonstrate an active role in your own learning by reading widely and expanding your own knowledge, understanding and critical ability.

Independent study will foster in you the ability to identify your own learning needs and determine which areas you need to focus on to become proficient in your subject area. This is an important transferable skill and will help to prepare you for the transition to working life.

Assessment

All modules are assessed through coursework, including essay writing, report writing, and presentations.

Dissertation

The Independent Research project which is a key component of this programme is assessed by 100% dissertation. The project may involve working with a partner organisation and it may therefore have an applied focus or contribute to the work of that organisation.

Academic lead

The programme is led by Dr Sven Lukas, Reader in Quaternary Sedimentology.

Fees

Tuition fees

Fees are charged at a Home/EU rate for UK and EU nationals, and an overseas rate for International students - find out more about how your tuition fee status is assessed.

Funding

There are a number of sources of funding available for Masters students.

These include a significant package of competitive Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) bursaries and scholarships in a range of subject areas, as well as external sources of funding.

Queen Mary bursaries and scholarships

We offer a range of bursaries and scholarships for Masters students including competitive scholarships, bursaries and awards, some of which are for applicants studying specific subjects.

Find out more about QMUL bursaries and scholarships.

Alternative sources of funding

Home/EU students can apply for a range of other funding, such as Professional and Career Development Loans, and Employer Sponsorship, depending on their circumstances and the specific programme of study.

Overseas students may be eligible to apply for a range of external scholarships and we also provide information about relevant funding providers in your home country on our country web pages.

Download our Postgraduate Funding Guide [PDF] for detailed information about postgraduate funding options for Home/EU students.

Read more about alternative sources of funding for Home/EU students and for Overseas students.

Tel: +44 (0)20 7882 5079
email bursaries@qmul.ac.uk

Other financial help on offer at Queen Mary

We offer one to one specialist support on all financial and welfare issues through our Advice and Counselling Service, which you can access as soon as you have applied for a place at Queen Mary.

Our Advice and Counselling Service also has lots of Student Advice Guides on all aspects of finance including:

Tel: +44 (0)20 7882 8717

Graduate Employment

This programme will equip students with a range of transferable skills and attributes sought by diverse graduate employers. In addition, the programme will provide students with knowledge and understanding relevant to employment in organisations such as Environment Agency, Defra, Natural England, Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, British Geological Survey and environmental consultancies. The opportunity to develop links with partner organisations as part of the research project will create work experience opportunities and provide insights into the structure and operation of these organisations.

Profiles

Name: Lucy Diggens

Studied: MSc Environmental Science by Research, class of 2013

Currently: Laboratory Technician in the School of Geography, Queen Mary University of London

Lucy Diggens

"I studied my undergraduate course in the School of Geography and this focused my interest and developed my knowledge of glaciers and sub-glacial processes. I really enjoyed being in the department and knew it had great laboratory facilities to help me specialise further at postgraduate level.

"My MSc gave me the chance to learn how to use scanning equipment such as a tomograph in the Centre for Micromorphology. I'm now directly applying these x-ray computer tomography skills in the work that I am doing on a project analysing sediment samples from Poland in order to increase our understanding of the formation of mega-scale glacial lineations.

"I'm hoping to use these skills to either work as a research technician, or apply for a PhD. QMUL has helped by providing access to these facilities, which are not widely available in universities."

Name: Michelle Morris

Studied: MSc Environmental Science by Research, class of 2008

Michelle Morris, MSc Environmental Science by Research, Queen Mary University of London

Why did you choose to study the MSc at Queen Mary School of Geography?

"While completing my BSc Geography degree at Queen Mary I went on a fieldtrip to the Florida Everglades. My coursework involved looking at management techniques within the UK and, specifically, managed realignment. This was a topic that really interested me and so I spoke to the School’s Dr Kate Spencer – who is a specialist in this area – about investigating this further at MSc level. The way the programme is structured meant I could take this specialism in a direction of my own choosing too, which was great, and really get involved. I also knew that having a postgraduate qualification to enter the jobs market in the environmental sector would be very beneficial and help me stand out from the crowd."

How has this study helped you in your career now?

"After completing my MSc I worked as a laboratory manager for two years - a position I definitely wouldn't have got if I didn't have an MSc. I then applied for a PhD, again, something that definitely required masters-level study."

Would you recommend the programme at QMUL to prospective students?

"Doing an MSc is great if you know you would like to stay in environmental science but have not yet pinned down exactly what you want to do. It gives you a year to explore different options and decide what areas really interest you, and at the same time you are learning new skills to add to the CV."

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